Saturday, March 30, 2024

[Link] The 50 Best Horror Books to Read

From Stephen King classics to true crime tales, thrills and chills abound in this list of some of the most frightful reads of all time.

by Meg Donohue and Emily Burack

The horror genre is not for everyone. Assuredly, plenty of people don't understand why some actually seek out the feeling of being afraid. And that's perfectly fair, but this list is not for those people. This is for the people who can't get enough of the creepy crawlies and heebie jeebies—the ones who want to know more about things that go bump in the night.

If you're looking for a thrill and you're pressed for time, there's no shortage of horror movies that will do the trick. There's nothing like a good jump scare, for sure, and contemporary scary movies will certainly leave you with nightmares. But, there's something to be said about a scary book. As books do, it requires more of an investment from you, the reader. With that comes more of a build-up, more tension and therefore, more of a payoff. The phrase "page turner" is thrown around a lot when discussing books, but when it comes to the horror genre, nothing could be more suitable—and there's no time like the present to dig into a terrifying tale.

No matter what flavor of fright you seek—from mysteries to books with a twist, and from demons to the real life stories behind some of America's most wretched killers—there's a scare for every type of horror fan. If we may lean on the beloved Goosebumps tagline, "Reader beware, you're in for a scare." In no particular order, from classics to new releases, here are 50 of the best horror books of all time.

Read the full article:

Friday, March 29, 2024


Airship 27 Productions is thrilled to introduce a brand-new pulp hero to our reading fans. 

Meet Harvey Strong, a globe-trotting adventurer who seems to attract trouble like a magnet. In this first collection, Strong is pitted against the ancient Cult of Alkubra; the Cobra. Travels to the jungle of Ecuador treasure hunting and battles Nazis in Iceland. 

New Pulp writer Tyler Auffhammer whips up an old-fashioned hero to give Indiana Jones a run for his money, while artist Ron Hill provides the interior illustrations and cover for this first volume. So hang on to your hats, pulp fans. This one is going to be a wild non-stop action-packed ride.


Available now from Amazon in paperback and soon on Kindle.

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Brian K. Morris: Give Me Permission and a Word Count

Brian K. Morris is an independent publisher, freelance hybrid author, business mentor, Facebook famous YouTuber, occasional actor, "award-winning" playwright, and former mortician's assistant. A professional freelance writer for over 20 years, Brian has been a full-timer since 2012. 

Tell us a bit about your latest work.

My latest book is The Terrors. It’s a reimagining of the classic Nedor Comics character, The Black Terror. It caters to my love of crime stories, old comic books, and outrageous conspiracy theories while being mindful of the time’s attitudes toward the under-represented.

What are the themes and subjects you tend to revisit in your work?

I grew up on the Doc Savage and Shadow reprints, as well as Superman comics, so I enjoy working with characters who do the right thing, and who use their gifts to improve the lives of others, just because it’s the correct thing to do. Also, that when life gets weird, someone will step up to be a little weirder and fix things.

What happened in your life that prompted you to become a writer?

I grew up in the country in my formative years where I didn’t have any playmates. So, I filled my idle time with comic books and television, back when the latter was still a luxury. 

When I read everything and the four TV stations we could get ran out of cartoons, I started making up my own adventures for my beloved characters. However, I was doing cross-company team-ups before anyone thought of putting Superman and Spider-Man together. Heck, it was before Spider-Man even came around, but that’s another matter.

I loved making up stories and when my mother informed me that someone received money for putting words inside the balloons of my favorite comics, I was off to the races. 

What inspires you to write? 

Sean, you’ve probably heard people say that creativity of any sort is like a muscle. The more you use it, the easier it becomes to use it, right? Well, what if you get to the point where you can’t stop doing arm curls? Not that I do in real life, you see. But I love the act of creativity. I love the challenge of crafting stories, regardless of where the characters originated.

I’ve been privileged to work with some great creators on their amazing IPs like Abraham Snow, Captain Steven Hawklin, Conrad von Honig; or the original Skyman. I’m flattered to be asked to participate in the party. I also get a kick out of mining the Public Domain for properties like The Black Terror or The Blue Circle, or using them to inspire new versions like Vulcana. 

Give me permission and a word count, let’s see what happens.

What would be your dream project?

I can’t pick just one. I’d love to write a Superman story or two, whether it was in the comics or prose. Same with Doctor Who, any of the Doctors, although I hold a warm spot in my heart for Colin Baker’s version. I also wish I could get the rights to an old television series called Sliders. I love alternate world stories and that show and that show was one of my favorites. But I’m going to send out some pitches soon, so I might get my turn with some of my favorite characters from other media.

If you have any former project to do over to make it better, which one it be, and what would you do?

Again, only one? 

I submitted a science fiction story involving the Mandela Effect that never saw print, to my knowledge.I would love to rewrite that story to give all the ideas I crammed into the tale room to breathe. It was around 5,000 words and it needed to be a novella. It was a case of taking everything I knew about the Mandella Effect and trying to stuff it into a story, but removing the plot to make all that nonsense fit.

What inspires you to write?

I openly fanboy over my wonderful friends in the writing community. I love the work of so many of them, that I want to keep working, keep improving, so I remain worthy to stay in their company.

What writers have influenced your style and technique?

You deserve a better answer than the obvious, and that’s “all of them.”

But if I had to pull some names from the mix, I’d say Don Pendleton, Harlan Ellison, Stan Lee, Steven Moffit, Roy Thomas, Richard Sapir, Warren Murphy, Denny O’Neil, Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, along with my friends in New Pulp…and I’ll stop now because that list will change before I finish this sentence.

Where would you rank writing on the “Is it an art or is it a science” continuum?

When done successfully, I think writing starts out as more a science than an art on the writer’s part. We need to know the rules of grammar, punctuation, story development, etc., or know an editor who does and won’t give a rip about our feelings. And we need to know those rules if only to recognize which of them we’re breaking and why.

I won’t speak for other writers, but I don’t believe I get to call my work “art.” I intend to create entertainment. Anything loftier than that, I leave the categorization to others, preferably several decades after I’m gone.

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

Finding time to do the non-artistic parts of my business, mostly promotion of myself and my friends.

As for the creative act itself, the most challenging component is plotting. The story needs to be different from what everyone else has done or is doing, supplying genuine surprises for the reader, and remaining true to the characters at their core. The balancing act for all that is my greatest challenge.

How do your writer friends help you become a better writer? Or do they not?

They most certainly do! Like I said, I’m inspired by reading their work. I love knowing such talented people…and I’d drop names like they’re hot, but I don’t want to leave anyone out by accident. I hope they know who they are because I like to remind them. 

What does literary success look like to you?

That’s a great question… and this is a stalling tactic. 

It’s easy to judge success by financial standards. I make no bones that my ultimate financial goal is to bring my wife Cookie home from her nine-to-five to edit for me, and others, full-time. 

But literary success to me means that people enjoy my work, talk about it favorably, share my work with others, and maybe leave me more reviews on the platform where they bought the book.

Any other upcoming projects you would like to plug?

Get the power strip ready because I’ve got the plugs! #alwayspromote

I’m currently working on sequels to The Terrors and Vulcana: Rebirth of the Champion, as well as some short story pitches for some anthologies that delight me.

Currently, I'm also editing an anthology about one of my creations, Doc Saga, an ageless white shaman. This character first appeared in Pulp Reality #2 from Stormgate Press (#alwaysprmooteyourfriends). The book will contain new stories from Cindy Koepp, Clyde Hall, Paul Barile, Rick Bradley, and Charles F. Millhouse, along with myself. 

In addition, I hope to get my first audiobook out based on my best-selling book, Santastein, with the vocal talents of David E. Laker, as well as one based on The Terrors.

As if that wasn’t enough, I should have a novel coming out in 2024 from another publisher, as well as a series of short stories from another still.

Plus, I’m still doing my blog, “Every Blog Deserves a Name,” for my Patreon friends.

For more information, visit: for information on my books, my broadcasting, and how to join my Patreon team, as well as my monthly insider information e-mail. 

Saturday, March 23, 2024

[Link] How One Group of Global South Writers is Decolonizing Literature

by Pritika Pradhan

During the pandemic lockdown, writer and editor Bhakti Shringarpure, like many people, found herself seeking to rebuild connections online. At the time, she was living in Nairobi, Kenya, as a Fulbright scholar, and Covid-19 struck at the exact moment when her monthly literary salons had begun to pick up. Continuing the work of organizing book talks and literary gatherings, as she had for a decade as the editor of WARSCAPES magazine, now seemed impossible. However, by attending a weekly Zoom film club with friends, Shringarpure realized it was possible to have lively intellectual conversations online, across different time zones.

Isolation soon gave way to a new sense of community. “Mainstream publishing swallows independent and small presses, and with bookstores and similar spaces shut during the pandemic, it felt like an urgent moment for building community around books that may never see the light of day,” Shringarpure said in an email. Together with longtime friend and collaborator, Suchitra Vijayan, founder of The Polis Project and author of Midnight’s Borders: A People’s History of India, Shringarpure established the Radical Books Collective, an online community dedicated to organizing book clubs on politically progressive books.

Today, a year later, Radical Books Collective is a fast-growing initiative with an international audience of general readers, academics, intellectuals, and book lovers. As its name suggests, “radical” books are the primary focus: fiction and nonfiction by authors and presses whose progressive, left-leaning politics and engagement with difficult topics such as police abolition, climate justice, feminism, and migration, are often hard to market to mainstream publishers and media outlets.

The format of the book club meetings is unique and suitably egalitarian: an hour-long discussion on the book is followed by a meeting with the author, whom readers can engage in conversation. Writers featured on RBC include Nobel laureate Abdulrazak Gurnah, Amitav Ghosh, Monique Truong, Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, and Mohamedou Ould Slahi. An upcoming series titled Reading African Women will feature LA Times Book Prize winner Véronique Tadjo, Nigerian-American novelist Chinelo Okparanta, and Kenyan poet and novelist Khadija Abdalla Bajaber.

“Organizations like the Radical Book Collective offer an alternative literary space for like-minded authors and readers to find each other and to share ways of thinking differently.”

“Our format succeeds because it is amazing to bring books and writers together in events and podcasts, to think about these collectively as radical in different ways, support small publishers, highlight translation and ignored corners of exciting creative production, and have smart people chat with writers,” Meg Arenberg, RBC’s managing editor, said, “This is the way one shifts the conversation.”

The impetus to shift the conversation in publishing towards greater diversity has long preceded the pandemic. Despite commercial presses publishing more writers of color, LGBTQ writers, and writers from other historically marginalized communities, the inclusion of diverse literary voices in mainstream publishing remains a work in progress. The Black Lives Matter protests resulted in increased scrutiny of the publishing industry, which highlighted the persistent, systemic imbalances and prejudices faced by writers and publishing professionals from racial, sexual, and other minorities, such as the racial disparities in pay revealed via the hashtag #PublishingPaidMe.

Read the full article:

Friday, March 22, 2024

Show Me a Hero, Sean Taylor's Classic Cyber Age Adventures Omnibus, Gets New Printing!

For Immediate Release

Atlanta, GA (March 22, 2024) -- Cyber Age Adventures classic collection, SHOW ME A HERO, gets a new printing and re-release! That's right! All of Sean Taylor's heroes and villains are coming back for another go-round and will finally be available for sale again at convention appearances and online. 

"Sean is a writer of the first order and his stories have always exhibited a literary bent that’s allowed iHero to defy the preconceptions people have about superheroes in a prose format," says Frank Fradella, founder of iHero Entertainment and Cyber Age Adventures

His omnibus collection, SHOW ME A HERO, features 35 of his superhero stories and all of his "Anytown Gazette" articles that support the stories. Clocking in at more than 500 pages of stories Dwayne McDuffie called "More fully-rounded, more realistic and, as a direct result, more human than all but the best superhero comic book work," the volume hasn't been available at conventions or in-person appearance for almost 15 years. 

Praised by folks ranging from Dan Jurgens and Tom Brevoort to Barbara Randall Kessel and Tony Isabella, this collection features such fan-favorite characters as Fishnet Angel, The Fool, The Grandstander, Marble Girl and Living Doll, and Starlight. 

"I've never been as proud of a book as I was when SHOW ME A HERO was first released," says Tayor. "And I'm still just as proud to see this new printing become available. I think after the success (and failings) of so many superhero movies, the public is primed all over again for Cyber Age Adventure's blend of literary fiction, pulp fiction, and tights & spandex tales."

The new version of SHOW ME A HERO is currently available as a trade paperback for $19.99 ( from Amazon. The previous edition is still available for Kindle (

Sean Taylor writes short stories, novellas, novels, graphic novels, and comic books (yes, Virginia, there is a difference between comic books and graphic novels, just like there's a difference between a short story and a novel). In his writing life, he has directed the “lives” of zombies, superheroes, goddesses, dominatrices, Bad Girls, pulp heroes, and yes, even frogs, for such diverse bosses as IDW Publishing, Gene Simmons, and The Oxygen Network. Visit him online at and

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Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Movie Reviews for Writers: Mike Hammer's Mickey Spillane


If you are a fan of pulp fiction or hard-boiled detectives in particular, Mickey Spillane isn't a name you're unfamiliar with. This documentary, written by Mickey's oft-time writing partner Max Allen Collins, can tell you all the reasons why that's true. 

"Mike Hammer was not the first fictional private eye," says Otto Penzler. "While Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler were successful and well-known, they never approached the kind of success in terms of readership numbers or magnitude of recognition that Mickey had. If it weren't for Mickey Spillane creating the basic mold, the other writers would have had a hard time inventing it. 

"You were influenced by Mickey Spillane whether you've read him or not," says author Parnall Hall, "because every other private eye writer is influenced by Mickey Spillane."

As true as that is, I prefer the way author Miriam Ann Moore phrases the same idea: "Nobody ever hit a noun against a verb like Mickey Spillane." 

So, what can such a renowned writer teach us?

Write your own kind of moral code

Remember that you don't answer to anyone but yourself. You are not beholden to your church or parents' religion, or even the community standards in which you live. You do you, as the cliche goes. 

But, be warned, that kind of freedom can get you in trouble with that church, those parents, or that community.

Says Penzler, 

"In the mid-1950s an author named Frederick Wortham wrote a book called Seduction of the Innocent which primarily attacked comic books as supposedly a cause of juvenile delinquency. The only author he attacked aside from comic book writers was Mickey." 

And it wasn't just Wortham. Spillane was catching hell from lots of different critics, as the narrator expounds over clips from his movies. 

There was a storm of controversy over Spillane's strong sexual content and violent action scenes. Along with comic books and rock and roll, Spillane was blamed by commentators as a prime cause of juvenile delinquency. Spillane was blasted as a prime mover in America's moral decline.

 Loren Estleman, author of The Amos Walker Mysteries, explains futher.

We were a very Puritan Nation right up through the 1950s, and it was only at that point that the old standards and barriers began to fall, and I think it was through people like Mickey Spillane getting out there and effectively butting his head against the wall that made those walls collapse. It wasn't violence or sex for the sake of violence and sex. It was there to propel the characters and to propel the story along.

Mickey himself makes it clear that he was never one to shy away from sex or violence. "Sex and violence are punctuation marks in the story," he says. And not just those two topics either. He also didn't shy away from addressing politics in his work, according to Penzler: "He was not afraid to write about politics, and he was not afraid to write about politics from a point of view that was not necessarily the most popular in the say, Eastern establishment of New York publishing."

All of that way of thinking (and of writing) made its way into Spillane's work because it came from his background. He wasn't an ivory tower author, but a regular Joe who wrote. As he says:

It's kind of like a blue-collar existentialist where you're talking about people trying to think about what's right and wrong, but on the everyday level of the "Who's on my ass today?" or "Who's going to, you know, kill me?" or "What what kind of decision can I make uh to keep my myself alive and still try to do the right thing?" 

Look for opportunities

As a blue-collar writer, Mickey was always on the lookout for paying work. Never one to rest on his laurels of Mike Hammer's success, he also turned to short, two-page detective yarns in the backs of comic books. 

There was some postal regulation that in order for them to get mailing permits for the subscriptions on the comic books they had to have a certain amount amount of text material. Now you got 25 bucks a shot for two pages of these things. Now this usually would take about 10 minutes to write, 20 minutes to write, but at that time 25 bucks was a lot of money, and you could write four a day you're getting $100 a day when a hardworking man out there is making 35 a week.

(Personally, I'd love to track some of these.)

Something will define your work

Spillane knew his work well enough to know and accept the fact that there would be certain trademarks or habits would mark it as his own. He didn't try to fight those kinds of identifiers or re-invent himself to keep fans and critics surprised. He accepted both his style and any limitations and wrote the way he knew Mickey Spillane could write. 

One of those marks, as the narrator recounts over a scene from I, the Jury, was his endings, which began as early as I, the Jury. 

"The swift violence of Mike Hammer's retribution was matched only by Mickey Spillane's abrupt punch to the solar plexus endings." 

It's something Mickey was proud of. 

Baby, when you're writing a story, think of it like a joke with a great punchline. Get the great ending, then write up to it. 

The ending was a make-or-break moment for him, says Collins. "One thing Mickey was very clear on in his work and even enunciated was that the first chapter sells the book the last chapter sells the next book."

Spillane cared so much about the importance of his story endings that he once put $1000 on the line in a bet with his editor. 

I said a perfect book is written with the climax on the last word of the last page, so if you took the last word away you wouldn't know what the book was about. When I turned in Vengeance, I turned it in without the last word on the last page he just asked, 'What was that word? What was the word?' 'Give me a thousand bucks. He gave me a thousand bucks. I gave him the word."

Screw the critics

According to Penzler, Mickey was able to speak directly to readers so critics despised him. They not only thought of him as low-brow and common, but also vulgar in his writing. It was a sentiment Mickey didn't allow to get him down. In fact, he often turned in back in his critics faces. Says he:

I went to a tea party, if you can imagine me at a tea party, you know, but anyway there they had this funny little guy who was a very self-important fellow. He came to me, and he said what terrible commentary in the reading habit of the American public that you have seven, the seven top best sellers in America today. Whatt I could think of to say but was, well, you're lucky I didn't write three more."

He knew that critics didn't call the shots, not really. It's the readers. "Critics don't decide anything," he says. "Publishers don't decide anything. No, no, the public is the one who decides everything."

He was equally hard on the writers in that equation. "Writers don't have talent. Writers have mechanical aptitude."

Everything must be done with the reader in mind. 

Don't get full of yourself

But that idea of being tough on the writer kept him humble, kept him true to his blue-collar way of approaching his life and his work. Sure, he was a best-seller. He was a movie star even. But he never embraced the kind of highfaluting way of letting that think himself any kind of star. In fact, he didn't even like to refer to himself as an author.

I am not an author. I am a writer. A writer is on a day-today job all the time. He's writing. This is a job for him. He's making money to keep the smoke coming out the chimney. I don't want to go out and dig ditches every day of the week.

I think we could use a lot more Mickey Spillane's in this business. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Brittany Wilcox: How Fan Fiction Became My Tool for Healing

Editor's Note: Brittany Wilcox is a dear friend of mine. We've been band-mates and co-songwriters, and poetry buddies for quite a few years now. She shared her story recently, and I felt it was so important that I asked if she'd mind if I shared it here with you. Thankfully, she agreed. Y'all need to know this awesome person. Trust me. 

by Brittany Wilcox

Trigger warning for mental health stuff, almost dying, and toxic relationship talk. 

I started writing fan fiction only five years ago. I was trapped in an abusive relationship and desperately needed a writing outlet. Poetry wasn't cutting it anymore 😅. Writing had always been so cathartic to me, and it was like I had this itch that needed to be scratched. When I first started, I wasn't a stellar storyteller. Learning how and when to "show, not tell" was a steep learning curve for me, who is inherently lazy and only wants to write the juicy parts of the story.

Anyway, My ex found my first AO3 account and deleted it while I was hospitalized fighting for my life against a septic brain infection. He alienated me from the friends I had made online. I rebuilt it in secret after I got out of the hospital. He forced me to abandon my second account. At this point, I had met who is now my girlfriend who I live with. At the time, we were just friends. He made me tell her we couldn't be friends anymore and forced me to read her reply to him out loud. I sobbed uncontrollably as I did.

Jokes on him now because we live together now and I've never been happier. So, fuck you, ex.

Anyway, the whole brain infection conundrum made me realize I have a covert mental illness. It didn't make itself known to me until I almost died and *had* to become aware of it in order to survive.

You'll know it as DID (formerly Multiple Personality Disorder for the Boomers 😉). I went into trauma therapy after leaving my ex and was formerly diagnosed during this time. (Anyone who has questions about this, I'm willing to answer. What is widely known about this mental illness to the public is very, very wrong).

Once I started to heal, the compulsion I felt to write these stories (it was all for one particular fandom, by the way. I only wrote for a single fandom 99 percent of the time) lessened, and I realized that I was writing these stories to try and communicate with myself. I was trying to tell myself about my other parts that were separated from me. It became a tool of healing and expression of the abuse I had suffered throughout my life via the use of metaphors and storytelling. It gave me enough emotional and psychological distance from what happened to get it out without spiraling into the throws of a CPTSD episode.

Of course, it couldn't prevent every spiral, and due to both the physical trauma of the infection and the rampant abuse I had suffered at the hands of many for my entire life, I succumbed to the spiral two more times and had to be hospitalized. (I didn't try to unalive myself. My nervous system would just get so out of whack that I would be convinced I was dying and stay awake for days on end until I was in full-blown psychosis. 0/4 stars do not recommend).

Each time I recovered in part because of my escape into fanfiction.

When my service dog passed away from cancer almost two years ago now, I was able to put that grief into one of the most beautiful pieces I've ever written, instead of spiraling. For me, it's been a hell of a tool of self-discovery and healing. No, I don't share it openly with people I know personally. I am afraid of judgment for some of my darkest themes. It's anonymous for a reason (though if someone wants to read it I'll give them a link. I'm not shy. I'm just not out promoting it).

I'm in a healthier place now and have started trying my hand at happier, fluffier fics just for the challenge. Sure, it's made me a better writer, but that's absolutely the least of it.

Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.

Saturday, March 16, 2024

Submissions now open for 9th Annual Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity in Comics

Deadline is May 25th, 2024 for comics published during the 2023 calendar year.

by Beat Staff

The 9th Annual Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity in Comics is now officially accepting submissions. As in previous years, the event will name one winner from five honored finalists, whose work resembles a commitment to excellence and inclusion on and off the page, much like the late Mr. McDuffie’s own efforts to produce entertainment that was representative of and created by a wide scope of human experience.

Read the official PR below for details:

The 9th annual “Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity in Comics” is now accepting submissions at The deadline is May 25th, 2024 for comics published during the 2023 calendar year.

With a selection committee of notable comic book professionals led by industry legend Marv Wolfman, this prestigious prize has grown exponentially in esteem since it was established in 2014 in honor of Dwayne McDuffie (1962-2011), the legendary African-American comic book writer/editor and writer/producer of the animated Static Shock, Justice League, and Ben 10: Alien Force/Ultimate Alien, who famously co-founded Milestone Media, the most successful minority-owned comic book company in the history of the industry.

Dwayne McDuffie: In His Own Words

The slogan for the Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity in Comics is Mr. McDuffie’s own profound saying:

“From invisible to inevitable.”

Fan-favorite actor, Phil LaMarr, who worked extensively with Mr. McDuffie both in the title role of the animated Static Shock as well as the voice of John Stewart/Green Lantern on the animated Justice League, had this to say about his perennial involvement with the DMADs:

“I am part of the DMADs because of gratitude. I am thankful that Dwayne McDuffie’s amazing skills made me enjoy being a comic book nerd and also gave me the opportunity to be a comic book hero! But even more importantly, Dwayne showed us that diversity is about equity and also about excellence. When you widen the available perspectives of characters, stories and creators in an industry, you make it better! That is why we are committed to honoring this genius and keeping his legacy going.”

Continuing as Director of the Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity in Comics is Will J. Watkins, who emphasized the importance of the DMADs to emerging talent:

“In a time of such cultural division, political extremism and unapologetic intolerance, I’m elated that comic book creators can once again submit to this award that represents what Dwayne stood for: inclusion, compassion, and the highest quality of storytelling.”

Mr. McDuffie’s widow, Charlotte (Fullerton) McDuffie, reminded us of the significance of representation in all its forms, embodied by this award:

“The DMADs shine a spotlight on creators who represent diversity on the page and/or behind the scenes, who might not otherwise garner industry attention. As Dwayne stated often, diversity means ‘all kinds of people’—men, women, non-binary, big, Little, disabled, every different race and creed, and any combinations of the above, plus more! If you’re a human being, you are eligible and welcome to submit your inclusive work.

We look forward to seeing it all!”


2022 – Ripple Effects
Written by Jordan Hart
Illustrated by Bruno Chiroleu

2021 – Adora and the Distance
Written by Marc Bernadin
Illustrated by Ariela Kristantina

2020 – They Called Us Enemy
Written by George Takei, Justin Eisinger & Steven Scott
Illustrated by Harmony Becker

2019 – Archival Quality
Written by Ivy Noelle Weir
Illustrated by Christina Stewart

2018 – Leon: Protector of the Playground
Written & Illustrated by Jamal Nicholas

2017 – Upgrade Soul
Written & Illustrated by Ezra Clayton Daniels

2016 – Ms. Marvel
By G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona

2015 – M.F.K.
By Nilah Magruder


Colleen Doran is a cartoonist, writer/artist whose works include the multi-award winning adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Snow, Glass, Apples, as well as Gaiman’s Chivalry, Norse Mythology, and American Gods, and art for The Sandman, The Vampire Diaries, multiple Wonder Woman titles, and hundreds of other comics. She also illustrated Stan Lee’s New York Times best-selling autobiography autobiography Amazing, Fantastic, Incredible Stan Lee. She writes and draws the space opera series A Distant Soil. Among her numerous awards and nominations are Eisner awards, the Harvey Award, The International Horror Guild Award, the Ringo and the Bram Stoker Award.

Heidi MacDonald is the editor-in-chief of and has edited comics for Disney, DC Comics, Vertigo, HarperCollins and Z2. She can be heard on Publishers Weekly’s weekly podcast More To Come and found regularly on the Beat’s YouTube channel.

Jamal Igle is the writer/artist/creator of Molly Danger for Action Lab Entertainment, the co-creator/artist of The Wrong Earth for Ahoy Comics, co-creator of Dudley Datson and the Forever Machine for Comixology, and the penciller of the critically acclaimed series, BLACK from Black Mask Studios, as well as many titles for DC, Marvel and Dark Horse. He’s been a storyboard artist for Sony Animation and is also a popular guest lecturer on the subjects of comics and animation.

Kevin Rubio is a writer/producer who has contributed to Justice League Action, Avengers Assemble, Thunderbirds Are Go!, Green Lantern: The Animated Series and My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. He is also the creator and writer of the Star Wars graphic novel, Tag & Bink Were Here, and Red 5 Publication’s Abyss Vol. I & II. He is an inaugural recipient of the George Lucas Film Award for his Star Wars short film, TROOPS, is a Promax Award winner, and is an Emmy nominee.

Geoffrey Thorne is the writer/creator of Mosaic for Marvel Comics and the writer behind the transformation of DC Comics’ John Stewart from Green Lantern to the Emerald Knight. He was also the head writer and showrunner of Marvel’s Avengers: Black Panther’s Quest as well as a writer, producer and co-executive producer on such hit series as Leverage, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and Power: Book II: Ghost. He is the executive producer of the hit sci-fi/fantasy audio drama series Dreamnasium and of Redjack: the Animated Shorts on YouTube.

Eric Wallace is a Saturn Award-winning writer/producer/director responsible for projects in almost every media imaginable, including the animated series Ben 10: Omniverse and Duel Masters; helping to revive the gothic soap opera Dark Shadows on audiobooks with the original cast; contributing to the Scribblenauts videogame franchise; and writing for DC Comics on multiple titles, including the award-winning Mr. Terrific. His live-action credits include the Syfy Channel’s Eureka, followed by Z Nation, Teen Wolf—which featured his directorial debut—and most recently as Showrunner and EP of CW’s The Flash.

Matt Wayne has written for many highly-regarded animation projects, including Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles, Cannon Busters, Niko and the Sword of Light, the Emmy-nominated Hellboy Animated: Sword of Storms, Hello Kitty: Supercute Adventures and most recently, Iyanu: Child of Wonder.  His comics work includes Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight, Static/Black Lightning, and writing and editing for the original Milestone Media comics line.

Will J. Watkins (Director of the Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity in Comics) is a freelance TV, film and animation writer who is also comic book story/world-building consultant on The Protectors graphic novel published by Athlita Comics. He had a stint as an assistant editor at DC Comics and, before moving to LA, he co-owned Chicago’s first African-American-owned comic book shop. He was a writer on Freeform’s Motherland: Fort Salem and most recently worked on a TV show adapted from a BOOM! Studios comic book.

Marv Wolfman is the multi-award-winning writer who created Blade for Marvel Comics, The New Teen Titans for DC Comics, and legions of other iconic characters and stories. In addition to comic books, he’s written for animation, videogames, novels and more. It’s been said that he’s created more characters who’ve made the jump to movies, TV shows, toys, games and animation than any other writer save Stan Lee.

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Friday, March 15, 2024


After almost fifteen years of publishing some of the most action-packed adventure pulp novels, new pulp publisher Airship 27 Production is delighted to announce the release of their first-ever pulp romance novel. “Shadows of Love” by R.A. Jones.

Amber Milton, daughter of Lord Kensington, never set out to fall in love with the handsome stable hand, Edwin Stone. Though aware her father was in serious financial jeopardy and might have to sell their country estate, The Barrens, Amber was oblivious to all by her own life of privilege.

When Stone began to teach her how to ride the stable’s fiercest stallion, Storm, Amber felt a new passion awakening in herself. In the end, she could do nothing but succumb and she and Stone pledged their love to each other, come what may.

Then their idyllic vow was shattered when the greedy, unscrupulous banker, Harold Meek, offered Amber’s father the funds to settle his debts. In return for helping him frame Stone of robbery and chasing him away, thus allowing him to marry Amber. In one dark and loathsome ploy, the young lovers are torn apart supposedly to never see each other again, each believing themselves betrayed by the other.

Yet sometimes in the face of such pure, sweet love, Fate takes a hand and through a series of incredible events ranging from Italy to the coast of Africa, Amber Milton and Edwin Stone’s lives are about to be reunited.

Artist James Lyle provides all the interior illustrations plus the cover for this plunge in Harlequin Romance territory.


Available now from Amazon in paperback and soon on Kindle.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Fanfiction -- No Longer a Dirty Word in Fiction?

For this week's roundtable, let's talk about fan fiction. For a long time, it was synonymous with both "amateur" by professionals and "theft" by IP owners. But that has seemed to be changing as time moves on. So, this one is for all the fan-fic writers out there. Let's chat.

What is your experience with fan-fic?

Angelia Sparrow: I got into pro writing from fanfic. I have done a few filed off pieces (took an old Star Wars fiction, made Luke a girl and Han a cat-girl, kept the plot, changed the end)

Kay Iscah: I've written four or five fanfiction novels, including a perspective trilogy (same story from 3 different limited perspectives), a novella, and some short pieces. But I'm careful to separate it under a different pen name from my professional work, and think it's important to respect the copy right holder's wishes when it comes to writing fanfiction. I've also edited or beta read stories for others.

Ed Erdelac: I started out writing Star Wars fanfic and was eventually hired to write the real thing a couple of times. My last novel was a thinly disguised Friday The 13th fanfic. 

Bobby Nash: I started out writing the characters I knew and loved. That helped me learn the basics of writing and eventually it led to creating my own characters and telling their stories.

Jana Oliver: My first few stories were fan-fic though I never uploaded those so no one else has read them. All three were book length (a Dr Who and 2 Babylon 5s). My fan-fic proved I could handle plotting and the story structure, and so I started writing books set in my own worlds.

I do not read fan-fic, especially anything based on my main UF series due to the legal implications. I just ignore that those exist, though I was kinda jazzed when they first appeared.

Danielle Procter Piper: The most valuable thing I've learned in writing fanfiction is that another writer is going to jump you and nitpick your work, telling you how you're not following the original ideas to the letter. It's fanfiction. I can do what I want. 

Susan Roddey: Oh, do I have thoughts on this... Let me preface this by saying fanfiction writers are absolutely lifting IP from the creators. That's just the way of the craft. HOWEVER... I cut my writing teeth on fan fiction. Granted, most of it is terrible and will never, ever see the light of day beyond what used to exist on Livejournal and in old Yahoo! Groups, but it helped me learn how to write. When the rules of the world are pre-defined, it's easier to focus on technique - dialogue, plot, characterization, etc. I took what I learned playing in others' sandboxes and used it to create my own original work.

Nope, wrong kind of fan.
Jason Bullock: I have had a little experience with fan fiction of owned IP. I have written several novellas and short stories of public domain characters. My family has written several works of fan-fic of sci-fi television series however. I have read several fan-fic series including sci-fi from movies and television for entertainment as well as creative inspiration.

Maya Preisler: I’ve been writing fanfic for about thirty years, though it’s only recently that I’ve started “publishing” stories on AO3 for others to read. My most popular work is an ongoing epic series that currently has around 263k words and around 16k page views.

Bertram Gibbs: For several years, on top of my original stories, I was given the chance to write a few DC Comic stories for this online fan fiction group. My first was a tribute to the 80s Justice League series (‘The Return of BWAH-HAH-HA’) where Plastic Man, Blue Beetle (Ted Kord) Booster Gold (with Skeets) take on Lex Luthor using their combined powers of annoyance. That was because DC didn’t want to publish the novel (rubes). It was so well received, I was invited to write a few more (a time travel Batman story and a JSA piece). And if invited here, I’ll be more than happy to share them with you.

What are the pros of writing fan-fic that you've experienced?

Maya Preisler: First and foremost, fan fiction has become a form of self-care for me; it allows me to escape to another galaxy and process my thoughts and feelings through fictional characters. Fan fiction has brought me several friendships, including meeting one of my readers at DragonCon. Having a community of readers who value and support my writing encourages me to persist and continue long past when I would normally have abandoned a story. I also cannot overemphasize how good it feels as a writer to wake up to comments, kudos, and other notifications. Receiving positive feedback is also an excellent dopamine boost.

Additionally, writing fan-fic assists me in growing and developing my skills. As someone who often gets mired down in the details while writing, fan-fic empowers me to practice by skipping the steps (like naming characters) which would normally cause roadblocks for me. This allows me to focus on the details of my writing such as foreshadowing, grammar, word use, dialogue, descriptions, and even story flow. After two years of consistent fan-fic practice, I can see already see where my writing has improved.

Susan Roddey: I think the pros are very much what I mentioned above -- it's a sandbox. You don't have to worry about keeping the details of the world straight because those who would read your work in that world are already familiar with the rules. It takes a large part of the stress of writing off the table so it becomes easy to pick the skill you want to develop and practice. I learned character voice by emulating well-known characters. I learned how to build a plot by fixing the things I saw wrong in the properties I love. It also gives writers a sort of neutral ground to play with gender identity and sexual orientation because again, the rules are set but can be manipulated so long as you keep the changes within the confines of the character's predefined personality. It does also create a sense of community - a place where people can belong. It's a fantastic arena for outcasts because we can find common ground among other outcasts. For the most part, it's a very accepting and loving community. I met nearly all of my friends as a result of fanfic communities.

Danielle Procter Piper: The benefits of fanfiction are that it's good practice writing, immediate feedback, and can help establish you as an author worth following.

Bertram Gibbs: It’s refreshing to write stories that I feel have yet to have been explored in the comics and enhance known characters. As a writer, there’s always that ‘what if’ moment where an interesting story comes from your soul and you hope that the writers of the stories you hold dear will share that thought. And when they don’t, you know that it’s up to you to put those thoughts to paper (or computer), to experiment with the beloved characters physically and/or emotionally, and create unexplored twists.

Kay Iscah: I think fan-fic can be a good training ground for writers. It's functionally not much different than franchise writing, except you have fewer rules to follow and no hope of a paycheck. Using another writer's characters well involves study of those characters and building a deep knowledge of their world. Fan fiction writing at it's best is a pure love of the characters and the craft of writing. It's writing for joy and not profit, a modern version of retelling stories around a campfire.

Jason Bullock: I have found inspiration creatively with fan-fic. I have written several fan-fiction stories in scripts for fan comics, including Star Trek Next Generation, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, X-FILES, and Murdoch Mysteries. I found writing those particular IPs gave me the challenge to put myself into the experiences of exotic universies helps me stretch my range. Meek characters, hubris-ridden oligarchs, otherworldly interloper, all were subject to me writing them in inside their own skin. How would they act? How would they talk? Why would they react to situations they would be placed in? These are a few of questions that I would need to familiarize myself with about the characters I was writing.

Bobby Nash: It’s good practice. It’s a fun hobby. You can polish your writing and maybe translate that into getting a professional writing gig.

What are the cons of writing fan-fic that you've experienced?

Kay Iscah: At it's worst, it's amateur porn, exploiting characters for name recognition.

And that's really the worst part of fanfiction. It's often thoughts without filter, which is one thing for your diary and another when sharing it with other people. Particularly for sexual titillation. My worst experience was being in fan group for a Star Wars character. Another person who seemed normal in forum conversations asked me to read her story, and it was just a graphic description of a gang rape using established characters. And I don't mean the story included a difficult scene. I mean there was no story, just a scene of gang rape with no warning that the content was explicit. I believe I was a minor at the time as well, though the person who sent me the story had no way to know that.

Ed Erdelac: I've personally found that so-called fans aren't particularly supportive of anything that isn't given the licensor's official stamp of approval or that doesn't go for broke and use the exact names of everything. Even then, there are perceived tiers of licensed fiction. All in all, too many amateur gatekeepers. I don't think I'd indulge myself in it again.

Jason Bullock: Conversely speaking to the answer of the previous question, I am limited in the level of changes to the characters beyond the established paradigms put in place by the original author. No permanent body modifications, no personal alteration that would destroy existing cannon, or death of lead characters is allowed when writing fan-fic.Bertram Gibbs: Finding a place to show and share your stories and get feedback to see what you could have done differently or, being a writer, get a modicum of praise because our egos could power a third world country (I know mine is).

Maya Preisler: For me, I’ve noticed it’s easy to become accustomed to the praise and positive feedback to where I feel less secure in my writing when no one is actively cheering me on. I’ve also noticed that the dopamine reward of posting a chapter is much quicker than publishing a short story (not to mention a novel), which makes me more likely to want to write fan-fic than the five original WIPs I have going.

Bobby Nash: I run into way too many people that think they can publish their fan fiction and make money off of it. That’s when fan-fic becomes theft and the publishers/IP owners start cracking down. If you do fan fiction, know that it cannot be sold. You don’t own it.

Danielle Procter Piper: The pitfall was discovering the person mentioned in the first answer. 

Susan Roddey: Readers are brutal. If you get even the smallest details wrong, fanfiction readers will absolutely level you in the most savage way possible. However, I think the biggest con is that there's a belief now that "if you can write fan fiction, you can change the names and call it original," and that's not always true. There has to be a differentiation between your world and theirs. You can't just scrape a few details off the top and pass it as new. There also seems to be a trend of fan-fic "rules of writing" bleeding over into original work. I see a lot of readers and editors complaining about things like point of view (fanfic rules don't widely accept an omniscient narrator in my experience), and many techniques that were used by the older writing generations appear to have been pushed out of popular use.

You'll have to forgive my soapbox moment, but as a con, one of the worst for me is the concept of real-person fic. Fictional worlds and characters don't bother me in the slightest because again...not real. Made up. There for the daydreaming. But I have seen some truly creepy things written about real people that toe the line of questionable. It's a worrying trend to me because it perpetuates the idea that celebrities "belong" to the fans. Maybe it's just me, but it makes me VERY uncomfortable.

How and why do you believe the world of fan fiction is changing? Do you see it becoming more or less acceptable to the reading public?

Jason Bullock: The acceptance of fan fiction is filling the void of mediocrity and overuse of story themes or clichéd elements presented to them in media across the board. With writing strikes involving established media outlets, you and I are always looking for that next great literary concept to share with everyone else in the paradigm of our favorite universes. Fan fiction is becoming accepted even more so in a wide range of target audiences. Children's fables to adult slasher stories, fan-fic is meeting the creative needs of many in today's story desert.

Kay Iscah: I think people are becoming more aware of what fanfiction is, particularly as we connect more with strangers who share our niche interests online. When I started writing fan fiction, I was a kid before the internet and thought I was the only person who did such a crazy thing. My first hope had been becoming a franchise novelist, but for Star Wars, you had to be invited which meant establishing yourself as an author with original work first. I even wrote a letter to Lucasfilm and got a polite rejection and a book mark.

Even some copyright holders have learned to embrace it as a way to keep fan bases engaged between releases. Like at one point Lucasfilm had fan film competitions and Pretty Little Liars experimented with letting people monetize fanfiction through a program with Amazon.

I think it will always be seen as amateur because it is amateur, and that's the fun of it. But a hobbyist knitter may still be excellent at their craft. The campfire storyteller may keep you spellbound. Monetization is not always a mark of quality. High point of my fanfiction career was having a librarian tell me that she like my version of Harry Potter's last year better than Rowling's.

However, I still know I was playing in Rowling's (or Lucas's) world. If I want to be ranked among the great writers, I can't just be a good wordsmith but also be a world builder.

Bobby Nash: As I mentioned before, there are folks out there trying to sell stories with characters they do not own. The publishers and IP owners then crack down and inhibit the fan-fic hobby for everyone.

Maya Preisler: I believe that as preservation of fan-fiction through online archives continues, along with support for legal protections, fan-fiction will become more popular and acceptable to the reading public for a variety of reasons.

First, I think fanfic provides readers with a lot of possibilities that aren’t as feasible in mainstream publishing because it eliminates a lot of barriers. Fan-fic is accessible to anyone with an internet connection, the text can be enlarged or turned into an audiobook with any screen reader, and it can be translated to someone’s native language in-browser. Additionally, fan-fic allows for the extension of comfort media, empowering fans who are craving familiar people and places to enjoy new stories within the safety of their favorite fandom.

Second, fan-fic has also historically been more diverse and inclusive than published media, as it allowed for the creation of works which would have been banned under the Hays Code or simply never considered publishable for containing certain subjects.

Third, fan-fic allows a fandom to evolve and adapt media franchises into something better. Many dedicated fans have already retooled several problematic IPs into alternate versions far better than the original ones ever could have been.

Fourth, the myths and legends which once collectively belonged to humanity are now owned by a handful of media companies and that number is actively growing smaller and smaller. Fanfiction reclaims the collective ownership of these cultural myths and returns them to the hands of the public, empowering us to former deeper personal relationships with them as we imbue them with better representation and deeper meaning.

Susan Roddey: It's absolutely becoming more acceptable, particularly with the awards bestowed on AO3 as a whole. There are absolutely some gems on that site, but there are also some pretty terrible things. I also believe that fanfic as a craft is on the upswing because people have less money these days and it's always (or at least it should be because we get into serious legal issues if it's not) free to read.

John L. Taylor: While I haven't written outright fan-fic, I'll weigh in with this. Works that become part of a culture's heritage are ones that have fan input. Creators like H.P. Lovecraft and George Lucas understood this, and their worlds have flourished for decades after their contemporaries faded. Star Trek had a very similar experience where fan writings of many kinds brought a dead IP back to life. It's weirdly important to a work becoming remembered and passed on to future generations. Mythologies begin that way, and fan stories make the difference between myth and a limited IP. Case in point: the SCP Foundation stories. The entire IP is literally fan fiction based on a random Reddit NoSleep post. Yet it is one of the most vibrant shared universes ever written. Let fan-fic thrive

Bertram Gibbs: I see more fan fiction sites popping up, but I also see what appears as stories that break the traditional characters and the way history has presented them. Some use LGTBQ angles, which while good are not truly showing the characters we love and respect. They are unnecessary twists that do not enhance the story and (I feel) are designed for shock value. Not saying that there isn’t an audience for these stories, but it feels like the focus is not on the heroes or villains or the hearts of the stories, but wish fulfillment of the writers.

I think that fan fiction can be more acceptable if there were more known and publicized sites that invite new and old writers to contribute, giving their spin on known characters, and to develop new, interesting and entertaining stories.

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Martheus Wade: Ninja With a Pencil

Martheus Wade is a creative ninja who writes and draws ninjas. Why? I guess because it takes one to tell stories about one. The first time I met him he was showing off martial arts moves and demonstrating how to illustrate the human body as a piece of artwork in motion, a violent, deadly piece of artwork in motion. 

Then I read his work in Jetta: Tales of the Toshigawa. I was hooked. 

If you haven't met him and entered the world of the Toshigawa Universe, you don't know what you're missing. 

Tell us a bit about your latest work.

I've recently been working on expanding my universe of characters called the Toshigawa Universe. The universe includes our books Shinobi: Ninja Princess, Jetta: Tales of the Toshigawa, Turra: Gun Angel, and the webcomic, Ready 2 Spar. The most current book that is out now is the redesign and re-release of Jetta: Tales of the Toshigawa - Defiance which was our first book ever to go nationwide. Ironically, it was first published by Shooting Star years ago.

What are the themes and subjects you tend to revisit in your work?

Martial arts is a huge theme of our books. I have always been a fan of anime and manga. All of that makes up the basis of our look and feel. 

What happened in your life that prompted you to become a writer?

I've never considered being a “writer” really. If someone asked me to write a novel, I don’t think I could do it. I’ve always just seen these stories in my head and wanted to convey them. I've always loved reading and English class in school. So it was a natural progression to write stories and characteristics for my creations. So, I guess I am a writer in that respect!

What inspires you to write? 

I see writing as an extension of my creativity while illustrating. It’s almost like the piece isn’t finished until its personality is infused into it. That’s why it's difficult for me to find interest in drawing fan art. I can’t inject my own story into it.

What would be your dream project?

My dream project would be a Wonder Woman and Jetta: Tales of the Toshigawa crossover. I got really close with a Jetta and Shi crossover that I got to write and illustrate in Jetta/Shi: Arrow of Destiny. She and Wonder Woman are some of my favorite characters. To place them alongside my character would be awesome.

If you have any former project to do over to make it better, which one would it be, and what would you do?

I’m kind of doing that now. I’m revisiting my old graphic novels and really getting a chance to update the art as well as add to the story to make it smoother. I’m adding color. I’m adding extra conversions. The characters are a lot more well-rounded. It’s been a treat to go back into these books again.

What writers have influenced your style and technique?

I love Marv Wolfman’s Teen Titans. He was first. The late Kentaro Miura’s work as a whole has been amazing to follow over the years.  I love Stephen King’s work as well. I think all of those have been highly detailed worlds and characters. I try to bring those to my work as well.

Where would you rank writing on the "Is it an art or it is a science continuum?" Why?

Well, I think we are seeing the answer to that unfold in real time now. With the advent of AI and how it’s quickly trying to steal creative jobs, science is trying to eat the artist. Writing as well as a creative endeavor is on the chopping block because people can’t really fathom the spiritual, mental, and artistic energies it takes to make anything. The general thought is, “I should be able to do this. I see other people do it. Why can’t I?” What they don’t realize is that there is an entire history behind that person creating. A person brings their life experiences to the table while writing or drawing. But we are seeing Ai rip that end result off as creativity. Writing isn’t science. It’s as art as you can get.

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process? 

Most would say starting. But I love starting and watching it evolve. I would honestly say finishing. Being satisfied with your work enough to leave it alone. 

How do your writer friends help you become a better writer? Or do they not? 

Kevin Williams takes red pens to my work constantly and Janet Wade, tells me daily how much a piece sucks. So they keep me on my toes. Haha.

What does literary success look like to you? 

Success is being able to live comfortably while taking care of my family and having readers enjoy my work. I don’t have to be rich and have a private island or anything. I just want to live life creatively and allow my family to live it as well.

Any other upcoming projects you would like to plug? 

My graphic novel series is up and going at There you will find all of our different series as well as apparel. So, I’d love for supporters of independent comics to go there to check it out. There are books there for all ages, adult and young adult readers.

For more information, visit: 

Saturday, March 9, 2024

[Link] 20 Inspiring Quotes from Langston Hughes

by Jennifer M Wood

Poet. Novelist. Playwright. Activist. There wasn’t much that Langston Hughes couldn't do. Born in Joplin, Missouri on February 1, 1902, Hughes—an innovator of the jazz poetry art form—eventually made his way to New York City, where he became one of the most recognized leaders of the Harlem Renaissance. But even amongst his peers, Hughes’s work stood out as unique.

In 1973’s Modern Black Poets: A Collection of Critical Essays, critic Donald B. Gibson wrote that Hughes “differed from most of his predecessors among black poets … in that he addressed his poetry to the people, specifically to black people. During the twenties when most American poets were turning inward, writing obscure and esoteric poetry to an ever-decreasing audience of readers, Hughes was turning outward, using language and themes, attitudes and ideas familiar to anyone who had the ability simply to read.”

Here are 20 inspiring quotes from Langston Hughes.

1. On humor

“Humor is laughing at what you haven't got when you ought to have it ... what you wish in your secret heart were not funny, but it is, and you must laugh. Humor is your own unconscious therapy. Like a welcome summer rain, humor may suddenly cleanse and cool the earth, the air, and you.”

2. On the importance of dreams

“A dream deferred is a dream denied.”

3. On censorship

“We Negro writers, just by being black, have been on the blacklist all our lives. Censorship for us begins at the color line.”

4. and 5. On Freedom

“In all my life, I have never been free. I have never been able to do anything with freedom, except in the field of my writing.”

“An artist must be free to choose what he does, certainly, but he must also never be afraid to do what he might choose.”

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Friday, March 8, 2024

Sean Taylor invites you to join the Crowd in Babylon in his new collection of dark and horror tales!


Atlanta, GA (March 8, 2024) -- Featuring 17 tales of Southern horror, dark fantasy, and weird adventure inspired as much by Flannery O'Connor, Eudora Welty, and Shirley Jackson as by F. Marion Crawford, Stephen King, and Ray Bradbury, Sean Taylor's A CROWD IN BABYLON takes readers from the chilling underside of the urban landscape to the homegrown terrors of rural life and hidden frights that lie beneath suburban smiles.

This collection includes both stories that have been out of print for a while -- such as "The Fairest of Them All: A Symphony of Revenge," the Zombies vs. Robots (IDW) tale "Farm Fresh," and "Posthumous" -- and brand-new stories, such as the title tale, "A Lot Different from the Brochures, Isn't It?," "The Ghosts of Children," "The Color of the Blues," and many more. 

Inside the pages of A CROWD IN BABYLON, readers will meet a diverse and macabre group of characters, including: 

• A zombie writer whose work funds the lifestyle of her cheating husband
• A musician who learns that true art requires irretrievable loss
• A Cherokee brave who must face the monsters from his people's legends
• A time-traveling widow nursing a violent and deadly grudge
• A woman who needs four-footed help to teach her grandchild to grieve
• A young writer obsessed with a dead actress
• An immigrant haunted by the vengeful ghosts of children
• And ten other creepy tales!

"This one has been a long time coming," Taylor says. "So much happened to delay the release of this, my first horror collection, but I couldn't stop pushing. Horror is so important to me. It's one of my favorite genres to write, and I hope even a little of that love for the genre shines through the book."

A CROWD IN BABYLON is currently available as a trade paperback for $14.99 ( and a Kindle ebook for $2.99 (, both from Amazon. 

Sean Taylor writes short stories, novellas, novels, graphic novels, and comic books (yes, Virginia, there is a difference between comic books and graphic novels, just like there's a difference between a short story and a novel). In his writing life, he has directed the “lives” of zombies, superheroes, goddesses, dominatrices, Bad Girls, pulp heroes, and yes, even frogs, for such diverse bosses as IDW Publishing, Gene Simmons, and The Oxygen Network. Visit him online at and

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Thursday, March 7, 2024

Playing in Someone Else's Sandbox

For our newest writer roundtable, let's take a look at writing characters created by other people. There are several ways we can do this, from being hired to write a licensed character (like Superman, The Phantom, She-Hulk, etc.), reviving a public domain character (like The Black Bat, Domino Lady, Sherlock Holmes, etc.), or being hired to ghostwrite for someone else's plot and character ideas.

What is the single most valuable lesson you've learned from writing characters created by other people?

Ron Fortier: There are only two approaches to do other peoples’ characters.  The first is complete ignore what went before and re-create them any way you want. Now if these characters are licensed, option two is off the table. At the same time, if you are working the licensor, you are hamstrung by what they will let you do or not do.

You also need to do your homework. If these are popular characters that have been around for a long while, they already have fans out there. The more you research what’s been already done, the more you can stay in tune with the essence of the characters and hopefully maintain them.

Alan J. Porter: Respect the source material and any boundaries that are set -- but it’s also okay to get creative and push those boundaries a bit. You may be surprised what gets approved.

Bobby Nash: I learned about getting to know your characters because if you write an already established character out of character the readers will know. Moreover, they will let you know you got it wrong. I also learned restraint. The difference between writing Zorro as a media tie-in and writing Zorro fan fiction is that there are rules with writing licensed characters. You can’t just write whatever idea pops into your head. You can’t marry them off or kill them, unless you put it back to how you found it at the end of your story. As you once told me, Sean, and this is a piece of advice I never forget, “Don’t blow up Cleveland. We might need it later.”

I often use Star Trek TOS as an example of how to write established IPs or licensed tie-ins. Almost every episode starts with the Enterprise flying through space. Everyone is happy. Then, some bad stuff happens that they have to deal with, but the story ends with the Enterprise flying through space. Everyone is happy. Unless you’re instructed otherwise by the publisher or license owner, that’s writing other people’s characters.

Brian K Morris: I love working with other IPs. I feel flattered when someone trusts me to work with their brainchildren.

My greatest lesson in writing other creations is, as one of my comic artist friends says, I need to leave the woodpile higher than when I found it. I not only don't have the right to alter a character drastically to suit my whims, I should leave behind some characters for other writers, including the creator, to utilize later.

Sean Taylor: Probably the most valuable lesson I learned from writing other folk's IPs, especially for pay, is that the owner if putting a great deal of trust in you to treat the fans and the characters fairly. Now, "fairly" doesn't mean what a lot of rabid fans on the Internet today think it means, mainly not changing anything and keeping details true to the version of the characters they best remember. Instead, treating characters and fans fairly, at least to me, means putting the characters in a good story that doesn't reflect only your take as a writer. Honor as much as you can what has gone before but never be locked into the past history of the character. The IP owner trusts me to tell a story that offers some kind of new approach that still honors the old and takes the character into new ground for a new readership.

What are the pitfalls you've experienced in writing other people's creations?

Brian K Morris: I don't see it as a pitfall so much as a challenge, and that's to find the voice of the character as the creator made it. This means when I research a character's history, I also study their vocal patterns, their psychology, and their quirks. Abraham Snow's tough guy wise cracks won't sound right coming from, say, Captain Steven Hawklin. or Major Marjorie Pettice I will even alter my prose style slightly to emulate the IP owner's. My purpose is to blend in.

Sean Taylor: Oh, god, the pitfalls are numerous. Nowadays, perhaps the biggest one is Internet trolls who want to cancel your work based on a blurb or a mere single illustration taken out of context. The fear of someone being in "control" of a character who feels differently about the character can drive some fans crazy. Now, I'm not blaming fans, because there are writers who bring their chosen story (you know, the one they writer regardless of the character they are charged with) and force-fit it on each gig they get.

Not just that, you have to be really careful when it comes to your research. I'm currently writing the adventures of the Golden Amazon for Moonstone, and that's character has a more convoluted history than Donna Troy (or so it feels sometimes). So, it's crucial that I write the version of the character Moonstone wants me to write. I need to be judicial with the research I do on my own and focus more on the story bible I'm provided by the publisher. 

Alan J. Porter: The people charged with approving the work may not know the property as well as you do, and sometimes you just have to accept that and pivot a story idea.

Ron Fortier: No matter how good your intentions are, there will always be old-time fans who hate what you are doing to what they believe to be “their” characters. People get passionate about classic characters and only ever done one way all the time. With them, you can never win and better to invent your own creations.

Bobby Nash: There are simply going to be stories you are not allowed to tell, for one reason or another. You don’t own these characters. You are being allowed to play with someone else’s toys so don’t break them. Most of the time, writing company-owned or licensed characters comes with a huge set of do’s and don’ts. From time to time, I hear people say, “If I was writing (insert your favorite character here), I’d (insert totally off the wall scenario the IP owner won’t let you do in a hundred years).” That’s not the way it works. The IP owner’s job is to protect their characters. Learning to play within those boundaries will work in your favor. I go into tie-in work knowing what kind of stories ‘not’ to pitch.

What are the benefits you've experienced in writing other people's creations?

Bobby Nash: Oh, yes. Certainly. I’ve been fortunate to write a few characters that I grew up loving as a kid. That’s just fun. I got to put words in the mouths of The Green Hornet, The Lone Ranger, Nightveil, Carl Kolchak, James T. Kirk, and more. How cool is that?

From a business perspective, these characters come with a bit of a built-in audience. Writing Kolchak: The Night Stalker put new eyes on my work that might never have heard of me. The hope is that those readers will go and check out some of my other work. We’re always looking for ways to reach new readers so sometimes it happens.

Alan J. Porter: Finding out just how much some characters mean to people, and the impact you can have on their enjoyment and appreciation of those characters.

Sean Taylor:
There's a built-in, ready-made audience. That's the biggest benefit. New eyes on your work who may not have seen your previous stories. Plus, there's also the joy of finally being asked to contribute to the ongoing story of characters you love. 

For me, there's also one other fascinating benefit -- the possibility of telling that story that maybe no one else has written because it may not (at first glance) fit the character but clearly does by the time the story is over. For example, when I was asked to write Lance Star: Sky Ranger by IP owner Bobby Nash and publisher Airship 27, the first comment I got back when the editor read the story was, "He's not in his plane. Where's the plane? He's a pilot."  My response was, "Sometimes it's interesting to see what a character must challenge himself/herself/themself to do when they are out of their regular element, and sure enough, after a few pages, Lance was back in the sky chasing his villain in his suped-up plane. He just had to figure out how to get there from the Paris Catacombs first. 

Ron Fortier: There’s an inherent learning experience that comes from writing established characters. The restrictions make it possible to challenge your own creativity and challenge yourself to bring something new to the character that doesn’t contradict what’s been done before, or change them. That’s a huge challenge and when met, can expand your own writing skills a great deal.

Brian K Morris: Aside from having fun working on other people's creations, a large benefit comes from showing my work to a different audience. That's why when I was kinda forced to write full-time because I lost my office job, I took advantage of the late, lamented Kindle Worlds program. I was already a fan of the Bloodshot comic book, which KW had the rights to use, so it was an easy decision to write a Bloodshot book to tap into that existing fan base. Many of my Bloodshot fans followed me to other projects, I'm glad to say.